Thursday, 28 February 2013

Night terrors

You can be almost 100 % sure that any major inconvenience will happen when you are extremely busy. Last week I missed my blog, since there were more important urgent matters and any early morning I normally can scribble my thoughts down while Number One Son is doing his early bird act was spent by having a snooze by all family.

Number One Son had a bug going through his system and his sleep pattern was all over the place. Recently, he has also had an occasional night terror – sometimes also during the day time when having a rare afternoon nap. Night terrors are apparently quite common with boys and they are basically random night time screamfests, when your child does not wake up but keeps crying and possibly screaming for a time, normally around half an hour. Hugely alarming when it happens for the first time and very irritating when you know what is happening. Neighbours are definitely not happy. Back rubbing helps sometimes and settles him down. Sometimes he regains semi-consciousness and finds a more comfortable position.

Last week Number One Son was generally feeling uncomfortable during the nights, so apart from the general stirs and cries during the night, there was a night terror or two. One night was especially bad and of course it was the night before the day I had to finish a major grant application. Basically, after a badly slept night I was copying and pasting figures to a budget sheet, totally aware that there was an item I should have included, but was feeling so spaced I just could not fiddle with the figures. I knew that in its current state all the figures added up and I knew what the figures contained. I just did not have the confidence to change the figures, since I was afraid to make a last minute mistake. Well, after reading the Himanen proposal that got €700,000 from different foundations and organisations in Finland with the most rounded of estimates and calculations, I probably should have just added an extra €10,000 for a conference without even breaking any sweat and estimating the true costs...

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Kingdom and horses

This week’s combination joke could make fun out of the fact that Richard III has been confirmed to have been parked in Leicester and the beef in many processed foods seems to be horse rather than cow. Shakespeare put the words “kingdom for a horse” to the mouth of the infamous king, but today it is more like “horse for a kingdom”. Or more correctly, one could joke, if the matter was not as serious as that. If we are fed something else than promised on the label, it is fraud.

The industry, FSA and the government seem to be playing ball with the responsibility. The conservative-led government, clearly ideologically bent towards a small state apparatus, says that ultimately the retailers are responsible for what they have on their shelves. One of the meat processors in Britain says that it is the responsibility of the FSA to tell what kind of meat is safe for human consumption. Findus was slightly sluggish in withdrawing their ‘beef’ lasagnes from the supermarkets as was Waitrose in informing us that they have withdrawn a batch of 'beef' burgers with pork.

Now some of the horse has been tracked to Romania and the meat was used by a French company who passed it to the actual French lasagne-makers for their Luxembourg plant to use. The episode has resulted with photoshoped images of cows cursing the horses [the Romanians] coming here to steal our jobs. The laughter masks the seriousness of the situation and reminds of the unpleasant undertones in current discussions. We will know only in April if there is horse in school and hospital meat dishes. The government is passing the responsibility to the local level, although the health minister is ultimately responsible for the NHS and in that way for the catering there. Nobody can guarantee anything in the world of international food trade. Worryingly, the government does not recognize that with a ‘Food Safety Agency’ they should be safeguarding the nation. Now when it seems that some meat processing plants were also stretching the definition of beef and lamb to include horse, strong regulatory body is needed.

If there is ‘bute’, the horse medication in the meat, the whole episode takes a more sinister turn. As a Finn, I have no objection to feed my child horse if it is good quality (and preferably it comes in the form of a cold cut as is customary in Finland). Suddenly, I am faced with a dilemma with some burgers in my freezer. Number One Son likes them and they are 98 % meat with some salt and black pepper. They are probably OK and I have already previously admitted feeding him processed burgers. The government has been saying that we should continue to eat processed beef dishes, since there is no proof that they are ‘contaminated’ (= actually not beef at all) or at least 'bute' is not harmful for all. Cameron has suggested that he would be eating manufactured lasagne, although where he might do this is unclear. As a millionaire, he has the money to source organic beef from a specialist butcher for all his family’s needs. It is just normal people wondering, if their children are munching beef or horse at school.

Anyway, I think it will be safest to feed Number One Son with something that at least superficially looks like chicken strips or white fish. Friday will bring more lab results, so then we may be a bit wiser.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Challenging behaviour

No parent like to hear that the apple of their eye is misbehaving. This is true with us as well. Number One Son has started to dare us more, push his mates and try all kinds of things, partly to annoy adults but partly to test different actions and bodily functions. Yesterday's surprise was a double test of spitting his nursery mates faces. Normally he has been kissing them, but he has been spitting a lot otherwise, too. He knows we do hate it and tell him off. Luckily, he was made to apologise and he did duly so.

A nurse friend has mentioned that boys get their first rush of testosterone around four, so this may be a sign of things to come. Number One Son's speech is finally coming along (in English) and he starts to be more argumentative in his special two-syllabic way. Food is often wrong, unwanted bits are thrown on the floor and trips to shops see crisps related meltdowns. Trying to get good manners to stick is probably the craft of the parents, so that your child will be socialised properly. Toddlers may find being naughty funny, but they do not realize that in the long term, their friends will find unpredictable crassness and tantrums wearing and the bad behaviour will have all kinds of social consequences.

One parent being away may reinforce bad behaviour or reintroduce behaviour you thought they were already passed. Number One Son suddenly started bed-wetting again for a couple of nights when I was away. Nevertheless, even if I feel sad about short-term setbacks, taken into consideration the continuous early mornings at home, it was so nice to sleep for a couple of nights! I am not the first parent who goes to conferences for a sleep, not for having a knees-up...